Posted on May 31, 2011

Rise of ‘Missing Girls’ in India and China

Monitor’s Editorial Board, Christian Science Monitor, May 27, 2011

Of all the world’s major ills–such as war, hunger, and natural disasters–none can quite compare to the millions of baby girls and female fetuses killed by parents who prefer boys.

New data from the most populated countries, China and India, indicate that the practice of aborting female fetuses and murdering girls after birth is still widespread, despite efforts in both countries to curb this extreme gender bias.

In China, the 2010 census reveals there are now 118 boys for every 100 girls, a skewed sex ratio that is higher than a decade ago. The sex imbalance has left millions of bachelors unable to find brides, mainly in rural areas.

In India, a new study reported in the Lancet journal indicates that 3 million to 6 million females were aborted during the past 10 years, mainly to couples whose firstborn was a girl and mainly among the more well-off families.


In India, 2 to 4 percent of pregnancies are terminated merely because of the sex of the baby. And with couples having fewer children, the practice is more common. The 2011 census showed 914 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of 6, a record-low sex ratio for modern India.


China remains concerned about the security implications of having an estimated 24 million bachelors by 2020 with little prospect of marriage. Officials worry about more kidnapping of women, higher crime, and other social unrest.


Even with a possible cultural shift, such countries will be coping with the problem of “missing girls” and “surplus males” for years to come. And abortion on such a massive scale–and done simply for gender preference–cannot help but erode a society’s ethics.